Advanced Functional Materials, Vol.26, No.46, 8390-8396, 2016
Carbon-Nanotube-PDMS Composite Coatings on Optical Fibers for All-Optical Ultrasound Imaging
Polymer-carbon nanotube composite coatings have properties that are desirable for a wide range of applications. However, fabrication of these coatings onto submillimeter structures with the efficient use of nanotubes has been challenging. Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)-carbon nanotube composite coatings are of particular interest for optical ultrasound transmission, which shows promise for biomedical imaging and therapeutic applications. In this study, methods for fabricating composite coatings comprising PDMS and multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) with submicrometer thickness are developed and used to coat the distal ends of optical fibers. These methods include creating a MWCNT organogel using two solvents, dip coating of this organogel, and subsequent overcoating with PDMS. These coated fibers are used as all-optical ultrasound transmitters that achieve high ultrasound pressures (up to 21.5 MPa peak-to-peak) and broad frequency bandwidths (up to 39.8 MHz). Their clinical potential is demonstrated with all-optical pulse-echo ultrasound imaging of an aorta. The fabrication methods in this paper allow for the creation of thin, uniform carbon nanotube composites on miniature or temperature-sensitive surfaces, to enable a wide range of advanced sensing capabilities.